By Elizabeth Varville, Journal Correspondent
The Belton community is continuing to display the meaning of giving. The Belton Masonic Lodge #166 is one of many organizations located in Belton that is stepping up and getting involved in the community. The lodge consists of 170 members, most of them veterans, who devote their time in raising money for public education through the Belton Independent School District.
“Belton Masonic Lodge #166 has an annual tradition of providing family meals to under-privileged Belton families each year on Christmas Eve morning. Community organizations outside the lodge choose which Belton families receive the meals; none of the families know we are delivering the meals until they hear us knocking on their door. Our lodge members get just as much of a thrill from the event as the chosen families,” said lodge member Ron Zimmerman.
The members of the lodge have been meeting at SAM’s Club in Temple for the past 10 years to gather the ingredients needed to complete the meals. Each food basket includes a ready-to-eat smoked turkey, green beans, corn, macaroni and cheese, buttermilk, fresh fruit, milk, eggs, and a bag of flour and sugar.
“I have been elected chairman now for several years. We vote to allow food baskets for 10 needy families. These food baskets will last them anywhere from four to six weeks because we load them up. We decide on a specific day to meet to shop for all we need and then we take it back to the lodge and separate it. We also have a member of the lodge who donates homemade quilts that they have been making all year long just for this occasion,” said event coordinator Monty England. “We have a raffle each year to raise funds for the donation. We only sell 200 tickets which gives us $4000 to use. We also supply about $2000 to Belton High School Project Celebration. We will also donate a computer or something like that to the smaller schools because we try to use up most of what we bring in from the fundraiser,” continued England.
Before meeting to distribute the baskets to the families, several members of the lodge come together at the Belton Walmart to purchase those last remaining refrigerated items needed to complete the baskets.
“As we began to purchase the items this morning, a lady walks over and says, “This is on me.” Such an awesome random act of kindness. I am guessing the bill came to about $200 since I was unable to see the final amount. We are so grateful for the donation and we want to thank her so very much. With this donation, we were able to stay within our budget,” said England.
The lodge experienced another successful year in making sure they did their part and give back to the community they call “Home.”
“I really thank you so very much. It is going to benefit me so very much. I run out of groceries almost each month. This is a wonderful surprise; I didn’t know it was coming at all,” said Belton resident Shirley Splawn.